Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How to Grill Once for a Week of Delicious Dinners

updated Jul 6, 2022
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meal prep scene with grilled meals
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jessie Yu Chen
Power Hour Meal Prep

If you love grilling, then there’s no better time of year than now. I bid a fond farewell to my oven and bring all of my meal prep outside — luckily everything tastes better when it’s been kissed by the coals. While I’m no stranger to firing up the grill after a long day spent staring into the internet ethos, grilling in a single go is a more efficient use of my time and resources.

This week I’ve planned dinners each night that rely on ingredients that I grill during my meal prep session. Proteins, like steak and chicken, are the obvious choice to sling over the grates, but even vegetables can gain a lot of flavor from the grill. During this meal prep session, I’ll walk you through all of the planning, shopping, prep, and grilling that you need to serve a week of satisfying summer meals. Let’s get grilling!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jessie Yu Chen; Design: Kitchn

Meal Prep Goals

  • Dinner: Dinners built on grilled elements from the weekend’s meal prep session.
  • Nutritional Goals: This week of grilled meals are fresh and summery, but are not focused on any nutritional goals.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 4 for dinner
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 70% of dinners (no weekend dinners)
  • Weekday Cooking Required? Reheating only; main elements are prepped and grilled. Dinner is easy to finish and serve.

Meal Plan


Shopping List

Here are all of the ingredients you will need for dinners this week. Cooking oils (vegetable, olive oil), kosher salt, and black pepper are not included on the list, as they are considered staple ingredients. Check this list against what you already have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you head to the store. This grocery list is organized by department so that you can work your way to the checkout line without much backtracking.

  • Bakery: 4 hoagie rolls 
  • Produce: 1 pound broccoli crowns, 1 pint (4 cups) cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons fresh chives, 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, 1 cucumber, 2 lemons, 4 limes, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 2 cloves garlic, 1 head green cabbage, 1 small head lettuce, 1/2 cup fresh mint, 1 red onion, 2 bell peppers (red, orange, and/or yellow), 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 large), 12 ounces zucchini (about 1 medium)
  • Dry Goods: 1 cup barbecue sauce, 4 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/4 cup mango chutney, 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 2 tablespoons whole-ground mustard, 3 tablespoons store-bought Parmesan and roasted garlic dressing (such as Newman’s Own), 1/2 pound dry short pasta (such as orecchiette, fusilli, or farfalle)
  • Dairy: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional), 1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
  • Meat: 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, 1 1/2 pounds rib-eye steak, 2 pounds smoked sausages (such as kielbasa, chicken, andouille, beef)
  • Frozen: 30 (1-inch) precooked meatballs

Power Hour: How To Get the Prep Done

  1. Boil water. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Thaw meatballs. Quickly thaw a bag of pre-cooked meatballs according to package directions.
  3. Soak wooden skewers. If using wooden skewers, place them in a large baking dish and cover with water. Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. 
  4. Marinate chicken. Grilled Chicken Kebabs: Combine 2 minced cloves garlic, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, 1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Cut 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs into 1-inch pieces, and add to the bag. Massage the marinade to combine, then set aside at room temperature until ready to grill (refrigerate if longer than 1 hour).
  5. Make rice and pasta. Once the water boils, cook 1/2 pound dry short pasta according to package directions for the Grilled Zucchini Pasta Salad. When done, drain and rinse with cold water to cool, transfer to a large food storage container. Make rice. Prepare a big batch of rice using your preferred method from stovetop to rice cooker. You’ll need it for two meals during the week, so make sure you prepare plenty. When the cook time is complete, spread the rice on a baking sheet to cool quickly before stashing it in the fridge. Alternatively, pick up frozen rice that you can steam in the microwave mid-week.
  6. Prep produce. Thai Grilled Steak Salad: Tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces, add mint, and cilantro and add to a large food storage container. Halve cherry tomatoes and thinly slice cucumber and red onion, then add to the greens. Cover and refrigerate. Grilled Zucchini Pasta Salad: Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slabs. Thread 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes onto skewers (8 to 10 per skewer). Arrange zucchini and tomato skewers on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grilled Cabbage Wedges: Cut the head of green cabbage into 8 wedges, leaving the core intact. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grilled Sweet Potatoes: Cut the sweet potatoes on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a bowl, toss with olive oil and salt. Grilled Broccoli: Whisk lemon juice, oil, and salt in a large bowl. Cut broccoli into 2-inch-wide florets. Toss with the lemon juice mixture and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired. Omit the Parmesan cheese from this recipe. Grilled Meatball Kebabs: Cut 2 bell peppers into 1-inch pieces. Thread onto skewers with the thawed meatballs.
  7. Make sauces and dressings. Thai Grilled Steak Salad: Combine lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar in a small lidded jar, cover, and shake to combine. Refrigerate. The recipe for Grilled Smoked Sausage Skewers includes 3 sauce options. Choose your favorite to prep, or go with my favorite, the Sweet and Sour Chutney. Mix chutney and stone-ground mustard together in a small lidded jar. Cover and refrigerate. Grilled Sweet Potatoes: Combine the ingredients for the spicy honey-lime dressing in a small lidded jar, cover, and refrigerate.
  8. Grill. Prepare an outdoor grill for medium-high direct heat. 
  • Thai Grilled Steak Salad: Season rib-eye steak with salt, and brush with vegetable oil. Grill 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and rest until cooled. Pour any juices into the lime-fish sauce dressing. Transfer the steak to a food storage container, cover, and refrigerate.
  • Grilled Zucchini Pasta Salad: Grill tomatoes and zucchini, covered, 4 to 5 minutes for the tomatoes and 5 minutes per side for the zucchini. Remove from the grill. Slide the tomatoes off of the skewers into the container of pasta. Cut zucchini into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the pasta. Add 1/4 cup of store-bought dressing, and toss to combine.
  • Grilled Chicken Kebabs: Thread marinated chicken onto 8 skewers (preferably metal and 9- to 12-inches), leaving 1/4- to 1/2-inch space between pieces. Grill for a total of 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once until chicken is cooked and registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Set aside to cool, then add to the zucchini and pasta mixture. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Grilled Cabbage Wedges: Grill, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Set aside to cool and refrigerate.
  • Grilled Sweet Potatoes: Grill, covered for 5 minutes per side, or until grill marks appear. Set aside to cool and refrigerate.
  • Grilled Broccoli: Grill, covered, until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes total, flipping every 2 1/2 minutes. Set aside to cool and refrigerate.
  • Grilled Smoked Sausage Skewers: Cut smoked sausage into 1 1/4-inch pieces on the diagonal, then thread onto skewers. Turn one burner to low and grill 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove from the grill, cool, and refrigerate. 
  • Grilled Meatball Kebabs: Lower the heat to medium. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes, turning and brushing with store-bought BBQ sauce every minute or so. Remove from the grill, cool, and refrigerate.
Credit: Design: Kitchn


  • Monday, Thai Grilled Steak Salad: Reheat the rib-eye steak in a skillet or on the grill until just warm, if desired, then slice thinly across the grain. Toss the prepared lettuce and vegetables with 4 tablespoons of the fish sauce-lime dressing. Divide salad among serving bowls and top with sliced steak. Serve with more dressing, if desired.
  • Tuesday, Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Pasta Salad: 30 minutes before you plan to eat, take the container of chicken and pasta salad out of the refrigerator to take the chill off.Toss with 2 more tablespoons of store-bought dressing. Garnish with chopped chives, if desired, and Parmesan cheese. 
  • Wednesday, Grilled Smoked Sausage and Cabbage Hoagies: Reheat the smoked sausage and cabbage in the microwave, on the stovetop, or on the grill until warm throughout. Toast the hoagie rolls, if desired. Spread the chutney-mustard mixture on the cut sides of the rolls, and divide the cabbage and sausages evenly among the rolls. 
  • Thursday, Grilled Veggie Rice Bowls: Take the jar of spicy honey-lime dressing out of the refrigerator and set at room temperature while you reheat the rest of the meal. Reheat half of the rice in the microwave. Warm the grilled sweet potatoes and broccoli in the microwave, on the stovetop, or on the grill until heated through. Cut the sweet potatoes and broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Divide the rice between serving bowls and top with sweet potatoes and broccoli. Drizzle with spicy honey-lime dressing and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired. Note: Add any leftover sausage, chicken, or steak to the bowls for added protein.
  • Friday, Grilled Meatball Kebabs: Reheat the remaining half of the rice in the microwave. Warm the BBQ meatball and bell peppers in the microwave, on the stovetop, or on the grill until heated through. Divide the rice between serving bowls and top with meatballs and bell peppers. Serve with additional BBQ sauce.